My generation is what the experts call a sandwich generation, meaning we care for ageing parents at the same time we rear our own kids. I’m grateful that our parents are still around and have relationships with my children. They’re not quite pensioners yet, but sometimes we get involved with medical decisions and the like.
There have been two occasions that people in my life needed dental implants. One was for a parent; one was for a child. It seems odd that the same dental procedure would be equally as good late in life as early, but true. Here’s how the experience for our family was with the different patients.
Trauma caused our child to lose his tooth
Our youngest child stumbled into the arena of high-stakes dentistry after flying over the handlebars of a bicycle. Like many kids his age, the curb edge was like a magnet to his front teeth. There was blood. A lot of blood. And two missing front teeth – it was like a scene from a horror movie.
Time is critical for a knocked out tooth. After a quick call to the emergency dentist for instructions, we located the tooth, handled it gently, and put it in a glass of milk to keep it wet. In the meantime, we grabbed a bag of ice to apply to the cheek and rinsed his mouth to help stop the bleeding.
When a child loses a permanent tooth, you have about an hour to get to a dentist to re-implant the tooth and prevent infection. Dentists typically don’t re-implant baby teeth because of the risk of damaging the permanent tooth underneath.
My mother-in-law lost her tooth to slow decay
My mother-in-law lost a tooth to a battle of time and decay. She had red, swollen, and painful gums that would flare up on occasion with an abscess. We managed to treat it with antibiotics and a dentist visit the first time, but the second time was considerably worse. My mother-in-law had a toothache and a fever.
The dentist said that some bacteria snuck in through an opening made by gum disease. Once the bacteria entered the centre of the tooth, the infection spread from the root of the tooth to the surrounding bones. The decay was too far along to save the tooth.
After a good fight, the dentist recommended she let the tooth go and replace it permanently with an artificial one that would last longer and not cause as many dental issues. In contrast to my son’s traumatic tooth loss, the removal was anaesthetised, quiet, and sanitary.
Both cases resulted in dental implants
It’s difficult to chew and speak properly with missing teeth. Even though their losses were markedly different, after a thorough examination, the dentist in each case recommended for my child and my mother-in-law. An implant would replace the missing tooth without damaging nearby, healthy teeth and prevents them from shifting into space next to them.
Implants are the only restoration that permanently replaces and functions like a natural tooth. Like your natural teeth, dental implants need regular dental checkups, but you can plan on them lasting a lifetime.
An implant is a titanium post surgically attached into the jawbone beneath your gums in place of the natural tooth root. It takes about 3-4 months for the area to heal completely, but the result is stronger than the original tooth.
Careful planning and extensive surgical experience are required for the best outcome, so choose your implant dentist carefully.